[BreachExchange] Canada - Province mailed private information to strangers

Audrey McNeil audrey at riskbasedsecurity.com
Fri May 5 10:07:10 EDT 2017


WATERLOO — The personal information of many as 5,600 people in Ontario was
mailed to strangers after a printing mistake on health card renewal notices.

The Ministry of Government and Consumer Services said Wednesday they were
still trying to determine the exact number of people affected, and are
investigating what caused the error.

Further printing and mailing of the notices has been suspended until the
cause is determined, a spokesperson said.

At least two Waterloo Region families are left wondering who has their
personal information after receiving health card renewal notices with
someone else's details.

"It's kind of important the government protects that information," said
Darrell May of Waterloo.

His eight-year-old twin daughters have a birthday in July, and recently a
renewal form came in the mail for both of them. One was fine. The other
contained a shock.

On the front of the form that's visible through the envelope was his
daughter's name and address. On the back was the full name, address, date
of birth, and health number of a young girl in Brantford. Both shared the
same birthday, although a different year.

"It was another person's typed in with the wrong health card number," May
said of the information on the form.

Now he's worried who may have received his daughter's information, and what
they could do with it. His other daughter's form also included her birth
certificate number.

"Obviously there's some problem with the system," May said.

A New Hamburg father also contacted The Record to say his daughter's
renewal notice came with another young girl's details, also from a
different city with a birthday that was a few days different.

He said when he contacted Service Ontario immediately after opening the
letter, the two people he spoke to there did not seem overly concerned
about the privacy breach. He was told a fixed version would be mailed, and
he was asked to send back the incorrect form.

Both fathers wondered how widespread the problem is and how many other
people's personal information was sent to the wrong address.

"I just thought people should know. They should be held accountable," May
said. "It applies to the whole province of Ontario, not just the city."

The ministry said it will be send an apology to all those affected, and ask
they return the letters they received in the included prepaid envelopes.

It notified the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner of
Ontario about the accidental privacy breach.

People who have any concerns about the potential for fraud or identity
theft are urged by the ministry to contact the Information and Privacy
Commissioner (www.ipc.on.ca) and follow its precautions.
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